London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and Southbank Centre are no strangers to cutting edge virtual reality (VR) technology. Both have been dabbling in the technology since 2016 and next month will see their latest endeavour launch. They’ve collaborated on two immersive, surround-sound VR experiences which will run for several days at the end of September.
The VR Sound Stage, the latest of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s VR projects is a custom-built sound studio in the Royal Festival Hall foyer at Southbank Centre. Inside, guests of up to six at a time will be able to don VR headsets and find themselves sat in the middle of the orchestra. right in front of the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor’ conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Featuring the music of Beethoven and Mahler, the first film was created to commemorate the launch of the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1977, with scenes cut from interstellar space along with footage of Salonen as the orchestra plays Beethoven’s Fifth. It won a Raindance Film Festival Award for Best VR Music Experience in 2017.
The second VR experience is Mahler’s Third, a UK premiere, capturing the final ten minutes of Mahler’s epic Third Symphony, conducted by Salonen in front of a live audience at the Royal Festival Hall on 1 October 2017.
“The VR Sound Stage represents the next exciting step in the Philharmonia’s journey with Virtual Reality,” said Luke Ritchie, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at the Philharmonia Orchestra in a statement. “These new experiences, presented in the UK for the first time, bring audio to the fore in a powerfully fresh format. Audiences can see and hear the Philharmonia and Esa-Pekka Salonen in a completely new way.”
The VR Sound Stage will run between 27 – 30 September alongside the first two concerts of the Philharmonia’s new season, with tickets available to book from 4 September. Opening times are from 9am to 7pm with slots every 20 minutes. Head to the official website for further details, or keep reading VRFocus for the latest updates.